The newest Reindeer Holidays story - The Reindeer Gives Thanks - is available to buy from Amazon now. There's a small peek of it below.
Take care and Hoppy Easter!
“What’s wrong?” he asked, frowning slightly.
“Nothing,” she denied automatically.
Mal continued to stare that indomitable stare that surely had killers and thieves confessing in seconds. Indeed, she couldn’t hold out for very long in the face of that look.
Ariel shuffled her feet uneasily. “Just, you know, it’s not easy to,” she swallowed, “guess what you’re thinking.”
He regarded her steadily for a few moments, and she squirmed. Lord, where was a sinkhole when you needed one?!
“You really want to know what I’m thinking?” he said finally.
“Yes,” she hissed, annoyed at him for putting her on the spot, and for always being so remote.
Mal rolled his shoulders and carefully folded his arms, presenting a defiant stance. “I was thinking how good your legs look in those shorts.”
Ariel blinked at him for a few moments while her reindeer’s jaw dropped. Did he really just say that?! Of all the things she could have imagined that was very low down the list. Actually, it didn’t even make the list.
“You’re kidding, right?”
Mal’s nostrils flared, and he jutted his chin. “You wanted to know.”
Ariel watched him, waiting for some flicker, some indication that he was making a joke, but if he was, he gave nothing away.
Ariel snorted. “You were not thinking that.”
“I was,” he said patiently, “and it’s not the first time I’ve thought it today.”
Carrie’s words flitted through her mind – about Mal’s alleged crush. “Are you actually saying you find me attractive?”
“Is it that hard to believe?”
“Well, yes!” she damn near exploded. “I mean, I get it that you kissed me years ago because you were grieving – I get it that it only happened because you were upset. But I just don’t get why ‘you’ would find ‘me’ attractive. I mean, c’mon!”
“It’s really not that surprising,” he said stiffly, a rare flash of anger showing on his face. “I may only be a hunter but…”
“What on earth are you talking about?” she grumbled as her beast stomped the ground. “I mean, why would ‘you’ an unbelievably sexy and smart hunter, who could have nearly any female in the herd, even spend a moment thinking about nerdy, little me?”
Mal looked baffled. “You actually think I’m too good for you? Me?”
“I know what you think of me.”
Mal chuckled lowly. “Clearly, you don’t.”
“Like everyone else, you think I’m Saint Ariel – the most boring busybody in the whole herd.”
Her cheeks heated in embarrassment. She had never openly admitted that she knew what everyone called or thought of her. Her mom and brothers surely knew but never told her lest they hurt her, but wagging tongues could not be stopped.
“I don’t think you’re boring, Ariel.” He dropped his arms to his sides and took a step closer to her; her body trembled at his nearness. “And I didn’t kiss you back then because I was grieving, I kissed you because you were a beautiful girl, pressing herself against me and I was attracted to you, and that’s why I’m going to kiss you now.”
Her words were swallowed as he covered her mouth with his. He dragged her into his arms, crushing her against him. Ariel moaned at the exquisiteness of his taste, his feel and his scent. Oh, she almost thought she had built it up to be something it wasn’t in her mind, but no, it was even better than she remembered. She wrapped her arms around his neck, fearful of him ending it again too quickly. She wanted this moment to go on and on. Alas, it was not to be…